Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 73, Issue 6, pp 1145–1157 | Cite as

The myofibroblast, a key cell in normal and pathological tissue repair

  • Ian A. DarbyEmail author
  • Noraina Zakuan
  • Fabrice Billet
  • Alexis DesmoulièreEmail author


Myofibroblasts are characterized by their expression of α-smooth muscle actin, their enhanced contractility when compared to normal fibroblasts and their increased synthetic activity of extracellular matrix proteins. Myofibroblasts play an important role in normal tissue repair processes, particularly in the skin where they were first described. During normal tissue repair, they appear transiently and are then lost via apoptosis. However, the chronic presence and continued activity of myofibroblasts characterize many fibrotic pathologies, in the skin and internal organs including the liver, kidney and lung. More recently, it has become clear that myofibroblasts also play a role in many types of cancer as stromal or cancer-associated myofibroblast. The fact that myofibroblasts are now known to be key players in many pathologies makes understanding their functions, origin and the regulation of their differentiation important to enable them to be regulated in normal physiology and targeted in fibrosis, scarring and cancer.


α-Smooth muscle actin Contractility Extracellular matrix Excessive scarring Fibrosis Cancer stroma Innervation 



Extracellular matrix


Smooth muscle


Epithelial mesenchymal transition


Hepatic stellate cell


Transforming growth factor


Connective tissue growth factor


Platelet-derived growth factor


Reactive oxygen species


NADPH oxidase


Matrix metalloproteinase


Latency-associated peptide


Calcitonin gene-related peptide


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Medical SciencesRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Physiology, Faculty of PharmacyUniversity of LimogesLimoges CedexFrance
  3. 3.EA 6309 Myelin Maintenance and Peripheral NeuropathiesUniversity of LimogesLimogesFrance

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